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OVERVIEW

James J. Leonard
Partner

Atlanta

3475 Piedmont Road N.E.
Suite 1700
Atlanta, GA 30305-3327

P 404-264-4060

F 404-264-4033

OVERVIEW

James J. Leonard
Partner

Atlanta

3475 Piedmont Road N.E.
Suite 1700
Atlanta, GA 30305-3327

P 404-264-4060

F 404-264-4033

Jim Leonard focuses his practice in the areas of insurance coverage advice and litigation on behalf of policyholders. With a dedication to maximizing client coverage and recovery while minimizing expense, Jim is committed to ensuring each client he serves receives the full benefit of their insurance investment.

OVERVIEW

James J. Leonard Partner

Atlanta

3475 Piedmont Road N.E.
Suite 1700
Atlanta, GA 30305-3327

P : 404-264-4060

Jim Leonard focuses his practice in the areas of insurance coverage advice and litigation on behalf of policyholders. With a dedication to maximizing client coverage and recovery while minimizing expense, Jim is committed to ensuring each client he serves receives the full benefit of their insurance investment.

A trusted business adviser, formidable litigator and veteran insurance professional, Jim focuses on developing dispute resolution strategies that put his clients in a position to prevail when critical coverage is denied. Jim has assisted policyholders in recovering insurance proceeds in a wide variety of industries and professions. His experience includes airlines, auto parts, banking, technology, religious and nonprofit organizations, communications, construction, consumer products, credit management, hospitals, infrastructure, nursing home and long-term care facilities, paper and other forest products, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, physicians, property management, universities, and many others.

Jim also works with clients on their environmental insurance recovery efforts, with a particular emphasis on the recovery of insurance proceeds for environmental hazards such as pollution and asbestos. He has also assisted clients in addressing sophisticated insurance and indemnity issues in the course of mergers and acquisitions, and has helped with the formation and management of captive insurance companies. Moreover, Jim provides legal counsel to healthcare and life and health insurer clients on significant matters of law, including stranger-owned life insurance, ERISA, state regulatory and licensure issues, and general litigation.

Prior to private practice, Jim served as vice president, claims and general counsel for MAG Mutual Insurance Company in Atlanta, which is Georgia’s largest professional liability insurer. Having worked for many years as counsel for an insurance company, Jim knows the dynamics of the insurance business from the inside out, giving his clients today an advantage in discovery, depositions, settlement negotiation and at trial. Jim understands how insurance companies operate and what inherently drives their agenda. As a result, he is able to anticipate their next steps and apply the right strategy to counter that position.

After decades representing policyholders and working in-house for insurance companies, Jim is well-versed in the financial and even emotional impact of a coverage dispute. Level-headed, amiable and a dedicated professional, Jim is appreciated for defending policyholders faced with dire consequences in the event their insurance company fails them. He has resolved complex litigation involving practically every type of coverage and ranging in value from millions to hundreds of millions of dollars. Regardless of the size or difficulty of the matter, Jim seeks to understand his clients’ position and provide practical, considerate, effectual and aggressive advocacy that results in the financial recovery his clients deserve.

Prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg, Jim was a partner in the insurance recovery group at a large Atlanta-based law firm. He is a frequent speaker on insurance-related subjects around the country. 

Professional and Community Involvement

Chair, American Bar Association Construction Litigation Insurance Subcommittee

Honors

The Best Lawyers in America, 2015-2019

Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent

EXPERIENCE
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney represented a charitable foundation in an insurance coverage case involving consumer class action claims arising from client’s consumer credit counseling business.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney represented a church in a coverage case involving a massive ceiling collapse at their main sanctuary. On behalf of client, Mr. Leonard obtained full coverage for the loss after their property carrier had denied all coverage.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney represented a financial institution in a title insurance claim against title insurer for failing to pay losses and for failure to deliver clear title of large Georgia real estate development.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney represented a higher education institute in a coverage claim against their E&O and CGL carriers for claims of failure to educate and libel/slander. On behalf of client, Mr. Leonard obtained full defense and indemnity coverage.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney represented a national bottled water distributor in an insurance coverage case involving claims arising from water cooler fires.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney represented a national skilled nursing care facility corporation with facilities across the U.S. in matters involving the pursuit and recovery of insurance proceeds from insurer liquidations. On behalf of client, we have successfully recovered proceeds from a rehabilitation estate for their workers comp coverage and from their insurance broker for negligence associated with the issuance of Reliance policy. Additional representation has included the recovery of professional liability insurance proceeds for client from both primary and excess policies, either through litigation or negotiation, for over a decade from more than six different insurers. And we have advised client on the potential of securing their SIR (self-insured retention) through a captive insurance model.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney represented a private university in an insurance coverage case involving nationally-publicized defamation, invasion of privacy and libel claims against the university by members of one of its sports teams. On behalf of client, Mr. Leonard obtained full defense and indemnity coverage under client’s D&O, E&O and CGL policies.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney represented a religious charitable foundation in a coverage case arising from the alleged "takeover" of a higher education institute and resulting lawsuits against the Foundation and a host of others. On behalf of client, Mr. Leonard obtained full defense and indemnity for the case from the E&O and CGL carriers for the Foundation.
  • A Barnes & Thornburg attorney represented MedAssets, a publicly-traded national provider of health care quality assurance and information technology services in a publicized summary judgment decision related to recovery of consequential damages for breach of insurance contract under Georgia law. This has become the leading case in Georgia on this issue (MedAssets vs. Federal Ins. Co.).
  • Barnes & Thornburg attorney Jim Leonard represented a former high-profile outside director of a failed Georgia bank. When the bank failed, the FDIC brought suit against firm client and the other bank directors and officers seeking more than $20 million in damages. Travelers Insurance Company had issued a directors and officers liability (D&O) policy to the bank insuring up to $5 million in losses, including all defense expenses. Travelers initially refused to settle with the FDIC once it demanded the policy limits to settle, which then caused the FDIC to withdraw its demand. Following contentious negotiations with the FDIC and Travelers (including multiple bad faith demands to settle), Travelers agreed to pay, and the FDIC agreed to accept, the policy limits to settle--thereby protecting our client’s personal assets.
  • Barnes & Thornburg attorneys in multiple offices represented a major forest products/paper company in its historical legacy insurance recovery project, obtaining millions of dollars in insurance proceeds from solvent and insolvent insurance companies, both in the U.S. and abroad. The recovery efforts included payments from London-based and U.S. carriers who issued policies more than 50 years ago in some instances, and who have been insolvent for decades.
  • Barnes & Thornburg attorneys represented a major plastics manufacturer in a federal court action involving insurance coverage claims against its insurance carrier. When the insurance carrier refused to pay all of our client’s business income losses covered under its policy to cover costs from a devastating roof collapse at a manufacturing facility, our client sued the carrier for breach of insurance contract and insurance bad faith. Before deposition discovery began, the insurance carrier sought mediation and on behalf of client, we obtained a favorable seven-figure settlement.
  • Barnes & Thornburg represented Alaven Pharmaceuticals, LLC and obtained two favorable, confidential insurance coverage settlements. The team brought suit against Alaven’s primary and excess layer insurance companies for failing to defend Alaven in its thousands of Reglan claims pending throughout the country. The carriers refused to pay their remaining $10,000,000 in policy limits, claiming Alaven had reason to know it would become embroiled in the Reglan cases more than a year after the policies were obtained. After the coverage suit was filed and discovery began, the primary carrier, CNA, agreed to settle with Alaven at mediation for a substantial and confidential amount. The excess carrier, First Specialty Insurance Company (a Swiss Re affiliate) asserted additional defenses (including allocation, trigger, and no duty to defend), and refused to settle. First Specialty chose to embark on broad discovery from Alaven, including massive document productions from the underlying cases. Chris Lynch, who had recently completed a similar document production in a medical device case—involving the same allocation and trigger defenses—stepped up and skillfully managed the voluminous productions timely and accurately. Once First Specialty saw Alaven was prepared to handle their discovery requests and go forward with numerous depositions, it requested mediation--where the case recently settled favorably for Alaven. Having recovered most of their policy limits, Alaven has a pending claim now against its insurance broker, which the team will continue to pursue until Alaven is made whole.
  • The Barnes & Thornburg Construction Law Practice Group represented a Florida contractor that designs and installs window-wall products on high-rise buildings. The complex case involved breach of contract, acceleration and disruption claims arising out of the construction of a 28-story apartment building in downtown Chicago. The matter also involved insurance coverage disputes related to these claims, including litigation filed by on of the insurance carriers in Florida.

    With respect to the construction claims, two separate lawsuits were filed and after resolving complex procedural hurdles before the courts, the matter proceeded to arbitration involving the project owner, general contractor and our client before the American Arbitration Association. During those proceedings, we were able to negotiate a favorable settlement for our client, including a significant payment. We then also resolved the insurance litigation pending in Florida on favorable terms for our client.
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